Wednesday, 15 January, 1998

By FWi staff

WINTER wheat plantings in the USA this season are unexpectedly low, it was revealed yesterday (14 January).

First indications suggest the area of winter wheat sown this year is the lowest since 1973, according to the USDAs Wheat Outlook report for January.

Most analysts had expected a slight increase in the winter wheat area. But the figures show a year-on-year fall of 4% to 18.86 million hectares.

US farmers appear to have reacted to high global stocks and have made room for other crops – possibly soyabeans and feed grains.

Economists warn that world wheat prices are likely to remain low throughout the year because of slow world trade.

Forecasts for Chinas wheat output this year were recently revised upwards by 12% to 124m tonnes. And Australias predicted output has also been increased this month by 5% to 19m tonnes.

The economic turmoil in SE Asia is unlikely to have any effect on world wheat trade this year because demand for staple foods is not affected by changes in price, says the report.